Sweetwater Creek State Park – Lithia Springs, Georgia (Near Atlanta)
1750 Mount Vernon Road
Lithia Springs, Georgia 30122
Park Hours: 7AM – 10PM Daily (trails close at dark; other areas close at dark, if not in use)
Visitor Center Hours: 8AM – 5PM Thursday through Sunday
Directions: Take Interstate 20 West from Atlanta. Take Exit 44, Thornton Road and Turn Left. Go back over I-20 about a quarter of a mile and turn right onto Blairs Bridge Road. Follow that to Mount Vernon Road and turn Left. The main park entrance will be on your left, but the entrance to the trail heads is about half a mile further up Mount Vernon Road. Turn left onto Factory Shoals Road and then follow the signs to the trail head parking lot.
Terrain: I would call this an easy trail to the Factory Ruins and then a moderate trail to the Falls Overlook.
Distance: Approximately 2 miles – Out and back (You can loop back on two other trails instead of heading back on this one.)
Family Oriented: Yes, nice trail for kids.
Dogs Allowed: Yes, must be on a leash.
Hiking Fees: $5.00 daily parking or you can get an annual park pass for $50.00 that will allow you access to all the state parks. Wednesdays are free. There are discounts for Senior Citizens and Military Personnel.
About: The hike leads to the Manchester Manufacturing Company Factory Ruins. The trail follows along Sweetwater Creek. This is a nice sized creek with a lot of rocks, shoals and falls. The trail is completely shaded during all but the winter months. The factory was a textile mill that was burned down by General Sherman during the Civil War. The trail is mostly flat until the ruins. After the ruins, there is a steep incline to the Sweetwater Falls Overlook. The overlook is a nice wooden structure with a beautiful view of the valley and creek below. From here, you have the choice of three ways back; the path you took getting here, a slightly longer trail that leads away from the creek and a third trail about 5 miles long that leads to a pond and deep into the park.
The Hike: It was July and it being Atlanta, it was hot. We got to the trail early in the morning to try and beat the heat. This was our first hike at this park, although we had been here before to take advantage of the large lake in the park. The parking lot was already half-full when we arrived. We also decided to bring our two dogs, so they could get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors.
We were warned upon arriving at the trail head by a park attendant that there was rain the night before and that snakes liked to warm themselves on the trail.
The trail itself was wide and there were ribbons on some of the trees noting that a wedding would be held near the Factory Ruins later that day. We arrived at the ruins after passing quite a few people. The ruins are really just a building shell. We crossed over a bridge and saw where they had dredged out an area and lined it with stone in order to divert the water to the factory.
The trail continued down to the water side and then started up at a steep incline to the Sweetwater Falls Overlook. Really spectacular.
It was already starting to get hot and the humidity was high as well, so we decided to take the shortest route back to the car.
Overall the Factory Ruins Trail was great, but I do recommend that if you don’t like the heat visit during the Fall, Winter or Spring. As an added bonus, the Spring season offers many varieties of blooming wild flowers.
Sweetwater Creek State Park offers more than just hiking. They have a 215 acre reservoir with fishing and canoes available. There are fishing supplies available in the bait shop.
There are many volunteering opportunities as well. Friends of Sweetwater Creek is a non-profit organization that helps preserve and protect the park.
One more note, the visitor’s center is an environmentally responsible building. It is LEED Platinum status, the highest LEED certification level.
You can find out more about this hike as well as many others around the state of Georgia in Hiking Georgia.
Hoping your next hike is Relaxing, Safe and Inspiring,